Q&A: Theo Fennell on self-purchasing women

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Fennell talks about the effect of girl power in the jewellery sector.

Theo Fennell is a stalwart British jewellery designer who has recently returned to head up design at his epnoymous brand after a short break away, and since returning has launched a entry-level silver collection called Alias. Among the changes shaping the marketplace, including an increased demand for silver collections, Fennell has noticed a rise in the number of self-puchasing female shoppers. Professional Jeweller finds out more about how this change in shopper demographic has affected the jewellery business. 
 

How has the attitude of women buying jewellery changed over the years?
I think the biggest difference is that women are happy to buy jewellery for themselves but will also to make their tastes known if they are having pieces bought for them. They are much more experimental than men and know their own minds better.

Are you seeing more women buying jewellery for themselves?
As I have said, they are no longer afraid to buy for themselves as it no longer carries the stigma of dining alone, as it were. Women are earning their own money and so can make their own choices. One of the joys of our new Alias range is that, being silver, it is very affordable and ideal for self-purchase.

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What do you believe has prompted the shift?
The hard-won freedom of women to live their own lives, make their own choices and buy their own jewellery.

What sort of jewellery are women buying for themselves?
Women have far more idea as to what will suit them and are prepared to stretch the boundaries further. There is no uniformity to their choices.

Do you see much self-purchasing by women in the higher end of the price scale?
Of course, why not, there are a lot of rich women around and more all the time. If only one was young and able to be kept…

Have you changed the way you advertise or your marketing to reflect the rise in self-purchasing female shoppers?
Not really, our advertising has always been about the spirit of the business and the design of the product. Our hope is that people will fall in love with it from whatever sex, background or age.

Are there types of jewellery that women will still wait to be bought rather than buying?
Of course, I would think that women would like engagement rings bought for them and there are still those really sentimental bespoke pieces that I, for one, still love to design for people; those pieces that become truly theirs and bring real joy.

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